Working with a client recently, she referred to a few items on her to-do list as heavy and her energy got drained every time she looked at them. One by one, we identified that she simply didn’t know what to do next for these items.
Not knowing what to do can have a few root causes.
- You don’t have enough information about the item.
- You don’t want to do that item.
- You don’t have the [fill in the blank] time, money, skill…
- Your item is aspirational, and you hope writing it down will make you do it.
You don’t know what to do because you have not identified an action you can actually take:
For item 1- your next action is to gather more information.
For item 2- you might need to confront someone, and you hate that.
For item 3- your next act is to decide to be done or postpone.
For item 4- your next act is to commit to it or drop it.
If you identify an action like – call Kate for her birthday- and you don’t have Kate’s number, the very next action is to call John to ask for Kate’s contact. Once you get that, it is easy for the brain to process and say ‘oh, I can do that.’
If an action on the list was passed on by someone else and you don’t want to do it, or you don’t know how to do it and are a little embarrassed to ask, the very next act might be to summon the courage to either refuse to do it, or ask for more info.
If you don’t have time or money or energy to take that action, declare it done for now, or postpone it. I have a place in my system that catches those as ‘when I have more time’ and ‘when I have more money,’ so it can stop rattling around. Otherwise that item gets in your face, reinforcing your lack of ability or ‘not-enough-ness,’ and that is an energy suck.
A lot of people use their productivity system with the secret fantasy that it will do the work for them. It won’t. Writing ‘go to yoga’ at 6:am every day in your calendar for the rest of the year, will not- I repeat, will not- get you on a yoga mat. If anything, after the first time you do go, it will make you feel bad every day because you won’t be going.
Aspirational items [get healthy, get wealthy, meditate…] get on the list because we are not doing them. The next step here is to make a commitment to a higher purpose.
Only with a higher commitment to yourself will you accomplish those caring acts.
Not because they are on your ‘to-do list,’ but because you matter.
It was only when I started loving myself, that I was able to feed myself healthy foods. I don’t work out because it is written in my calendar or my to-do list. I move my body because my life is a million times more delicious if I am embodied and present.
The best kept secret of productivity? Creativity.
Make sure what gets on your to-do list are items you can- or want- to do.
Otherwise, be creative and come up with something you actually can- or want to do.